All Walks Reflective Writing
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Georgina Korrison FASH20031
‘The one constant of fashion is constant change.’ (Tungate. 2012: 11) The fashion industry is an intriguing one. We are constantly ‘seeking to renew ourselves’ (Toth. 2003:11) and establish our everlasting identities, therefore following fashion is paramount to our lives. As Fashion Promoters, our responsibilities are similar to that of fashion icons; they ‘give us what we want before we are aware of what it is we want’ (Toth. 2003:11). We are responsible for persuading and gently manipulating consumers into purchases through a variety of visual and written means. In this essay, I shall be focusing on the importance of consumer behaviour and its relevance in visual merchandising and graphic design, resulting in the duties an art director is required to perform. The job roles mentioned all require similar knowledge and understanding of the consumer, which will be the primary emphasis of this essay.
Fig 2. The Customer Decision Journey (2009) by McKinsey
To successfully understand the behavioural changes consumers make, I have looked at the ‘The Customer Decision Journey’ (Figure 2) and brand loyalty in particular, something which a Fashion Promoter has to be highly aware of. Brand loyalty only occurs when the consumer has made a ‘conscious decision that a brand or service satisfies their needs’ (Hoyer. 2010:258) to such an extent that they will continually buy into the brand. The reality is that consumers are lazy and therefore when faced with an abundance of brands that all perform the same job, it is easier to refer back to the brand they have had a positive and loyal bond with. It is important for brands to maintain this loyalty through excellent customer service for example.
There are certain psychological influences that can affect consumer behaviour, which I find very interesting to look at as a communicator in fashion. They include: motivation, personality, perception and learning. Survival, status and personal fulfilment can be key motivational factors. A personâ€™s consistent behaviour or response to recurring situations and personality characteristics, such as the way in which people see each other can influence consumer decisions. Perception is can be split into numerous subcategories. An example is selective perception where you can filter exposure and retain certain information that you find relevant to the situation. The final factor is learning, which tends to be behaviours that you have experienced before. These can be seen more simply in Figure 3. I think that these psychological influences link in with how identity and beauty is portrayed; if certain consumers decide to buy into a brand, because they believe it will benefit them then these consumers automatically act as role models for other potential consumers. The role model could potentially review the product online or simply suggest it to others through word of mouth.
Visual merchandising is a multifaceted field that requires constant understanding of the consumer in order to generate sales and maintain brand loyalty. Research stated that ‘80% of purchase decisions are made in store’ (Malhotra: 2011: 2), therefore it is extremely important that brands’ visual merchandising is successful.
Fig 3. Psychological influences affecting consumer behaviour (2010) by Anon
‘Customers today expect shopping to be a brand experience’ (Tungate: 2012:71). They want to leave the shop feeling satisfied and entertained; shopping is no longer a functional task. ‘Every shopper has become a fashion professional’ (Tungate. 2012:248), therefore brands need to work harder to win the loyalty of their consumers.
Fig 4. Dover Street Market (2012) by Imagine Fashion
There are several psychological ideas surrounding store design that I find particularly interesting and feel strongly influence the way merchandisers think today. It’s believed that the longer the consumer stays in the shop, the more they will buy. This refers back to wanting the customer to have an enjoyable experience. Creativity drives consumption and Dover Street Market is a prime example of a retail space that can function as an art gallery and social space for consumers to occupy (Figure 4). ‘A fashion brand cannot expect to thrive on marketing alone’ (Tungate: 2012:247) and instead needs to think about the overall experience the customer receives. By shopping in-store, the informative sales staff can guide consumers through the shop, offering them a more enjoyable experience.
Other behavioural habits include people in the UK preferring to turn left when entering a shop. This could be due to that fact that we drive on the left side of the road, but it means that merchandisers should think about situating their most impressive products or the goods that they wish to sell first in this location. In the ‘Store design and Visual Merchandising’ book it mentions that consumers tend to avoid lower and upper floors and that we prefer to scan shelves horizontally instead of vertically (Figure 5). I think this is to do with having to perform more energetic actions in order to see the products on offer, which customers don’t expect to need to do; they are in essence lazy as mentioned previously. There are multiple path layouts that a merchandiser can construct, one of which is the ‘forced path layout’ evident in stores such as Ikea, whereby arrows have been placed on the shop floor and a map provided in order to make sure the customer follows the specific route. The advantage of this is that it ‘maximises product contact’ (Malhotra. 2011: 13) and allows the consumer to experience the shop in the way the brand intended.
Fig 5. Four vertical shelf zones (2011) by Malhotra
As a creative, you have less than a second to establish a relationship between a person and a brand; a glance at a billboard, flip through a magazine, walking past a window display can distinguish whether a consumer has been engulfed into the brands presence or not. Charlotte Simpson, a visual merchandiser, told us in a lecture that it takes between three and five seconds for a window display to capture the attention of a passer-by. Through visual merchandising, you need to clarify what the brand stands for and some do it more successfully than others. Ted Baker depicts this wonderful cheeky humour in their window displays, which carries on throughout the store. They continually experiment with digital media and their Christmas 2012 window was an accumulation of both technology and wit (Figure 6). Harvey Nichols is considered a trend-setter with reference to their awardwinning window displays and was one of the few department stores to back up its positioning with a striking print advertisement campaign. They stock an array of high end designer brands and this is always greatly celebrated in their Christmas windows too (Figure 7), where they truly have a chance to evoke class and prosperity to the consumer. However, there are many examples of brands that have unsuccessfully managed to interact with the consumer. One example is the high street store New Look. Theyâ€™re never particularly inventive with their window displays and usually display the clothing in unattractive ways, such as trying to fit too many clothes on one rail, enabling the consumer to feel confused and uninterested in the stock.
Fig 6. Ted Baker window display (2012) own photograph
Fig 7. Harvey Nichols window display (2012) own photograph
Another important aspect of branding that influences consumer behaviour is graphic design. Neuro-marketing is linked with areas of the brand associated with memory and reward often induced by attractive packaging, striking typography and exciting posters for example. This is crucial for Fashion Promoters where ‘branding is considered a promise, an experience and a memory’ (Hess. 2010: 15). Packaging specifically can be seen as a ‘direction extension of the branding label’ (Hess. 2010: 232) and can therefore ‘enhance the consumer’s experience in a unique way’ (Hess.2010: 223). An example of this is in Figure 8, which I personally photographed when I visited Boxpark in London. This shop intrigued me, firstly due to the store design that you can spot from the pavement (Figure 9), the colourful, varying heights of the Pop Phones were striking and inviting. I felt I had to go in and learn more.
Fig 8. Pop packaging (2012) own photograph
Fig 9. Pop phone shop (2012) own photograph
Many people don’t recognise the link between fashion and graphic design. Graphic design often focuses on visual beauty, which cohesively ‘translates into an appreciation of fashion’ (Hess. 2010: 44). Many people are visualising beauty in a variety of unexpected, less traditionalised ways, and graphic design appears to be one of them.
Fig 10. Donna Karan campaign (1992) by Arnell
Jonas Jansson, art director for the Acne Art Department said in an interview for ‘Graphic Design for Fashion’ book that ‘we are creating fashion, in the sense that graphic design and art direction are an integral part of fashion’ (Hess. 2010: 18). I think Jansson is right, fashion consists of many carrying elements and as a Fashion Promoter we should be aware of these factors. Donna Karan is an iconic example of a fashion designer who not only stands for creating statement pieces but is also a strong feminist who crucially admires powerful women as being beautiful in their own right. She created an advertisement campaign in 1992 called “In Women We Trust” depicting a female president being sworn in (Figure 10). Karan believed that women could run the country and transferred this belief into her work. This case study proves that not only political, but environmental and historical factors can easily entwine into fashion concepts and this should not be ignored.
A job role that considers the elements explained; visual merchandising, graphic design, consumer behaviour and many more is an art director. It’s more cost effective for a brand to use an art director instead of an advertising agency, because they bring together all of the elements and have numerous contacts from all sectors of the industry. Without them, the fashion world would be tedious. The Art Directors Management, set up by Hervé Morel, is an agency that handles a group of art directors and other creatives. It was the ADM that introduced Donald Schneider to H&M, which eventually led to the store’s publicity-generating partnership with Karl Lagerfeld.
Fig 11. Dior campaign (2000) by Nick Knight
A classic example of where art directors can create impact is when they establish relationships with other fashion inspirations. Thomas Lenthal, an art director worked together with John Galliano and Nick Knight and constructed a very controversial campaign for Dior (Figure 11) that was bold and ‘overtly erotic’ (Tungate. 2012: 82) with the models Gisele Bϋndchen and Rhea Durham having a steamy embrace. Knight’s photography was ‘sharp and luscious’ (Tungate. 2012: 82); it was a new start for Dior, but without Lenthal, it would never have happened.
An art director is in charge of the overall visual appearance of a brand and how it communicates to its consumer, therefore they hold a lot of responsibility. Tom Ford was one of the first contemporary designers to understand the power of marketing and acted as art director himself. He ensured everything gelled together to create an ‘ideal’ of what the Gucci name meant, which was sex. Sex sells and the consumers wanted a slice. Genevieve Flaven, co founder of Style-Vision that specialises in monitoring and predicting consumer behaviour, noticed that ‘consumers can now decrypt messages so traditional marketing has become less significant’ (Tungate. 2012: 26) Instead, consumers want to know what’s behind the brand and whether it can give something back to them. In high fashion, you could be spending a lot of money for a beautiful product, sometimes because you want to be part of the story. A brand that is successful at recreating their own narratives is Chanel. Coco Chanel created her own myth and nowadays everyone was to own a piece of the legend. However, sometimes it is the consumer that can twist the story and remould the brand. Burberry started attracting the wrong consumer segment and the iconic check pattern became associated with soccer fans. Chavs and hooliganism were not supposed to be on their radar. This shows that you have to be particular and sensitive with your promoting.
Fig 12. Matthew Williamson Coca Cola bottles (2003) by Anon
I believe that as a Fashion Promoter, we need to start thinking about how weâ€™re going to approach our consumers in less traditional ways; our audience is coming more educated and versatile, therefore we need to react to these changes. Brands should start using other platforms, such as appearing in music videos or on consumables. Matthew Williamson and Coca Cola collaborated together to create funky bottle labels, which was a great success (Figure 12). A brand needs to get out of their comfort zone. A company that supports this is called Exposure; they shake up brands unexpectedly. An example is Agent Provocateur and Triumph motorcycle seen in Figure 13. More risks need to be taken, such as Donna Karan back in 1991, maybe advertising in the National Geographic magazine? With a saturated media, it is harder to get noticed and this could be a new way of advertising to a fresh, new consumer.
Fig 13. Triumph motorcycle (2004) by Anon
With reference to the consumer, it has been considered that ‘age has ceased function’ (Tungate. 2012:251). Demographics are dead. Style-Vision, the consumer prediction site has detected this change and believes that companies should refer to ‘mood marketing’ now. Mood consumers have been described as people who are ‘willing to buy increasingly personalized products and services to express their individual tastes and personality’ (Flaven. 2002: online); they want to feel special. It has become harder for companies to anticipate the needs of modern consumers and engage them, therefore by applying the Mood Consumption model, they can develop more creative branding for consumers to react to. I believe this theory directly links with the All Walks project we have undertaken, celebrating individuality and diversity. As a Fashion Promoter, you have to be constantly aware of the changing environment and demands that our consumers require. However, once you have read this essay, I’m sure all of my reasoning will be ineffective; ‘the one constant of fashion is constant change.’ (Tungate. 2012: 11)
List of Illustrations Figure 1. Chanel window display (2012) ‘own photograph’ taken on 14th November 2012. Figure 2. The Customer Decision Journey (2009) by McKinsey 2009: online at http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/03/ research-methods-for-understanding-consumer-decisions-in-a-social-world.php [diagram] Figure 3. Psychological influences affecting consumer behaviour (2010) by Anon: lecture at Nottingham Trent University, Understanding Consumer Behaviour. 23rd February. [diagram] Figure 4. Dover Street Market (2012) by Imagine Fashion 2012: online at http://pinterest.com/imaginefashion/beautiful-chaosat-dover-street-market/ [photograph] Figure 5. Four vertical shelf zones (2011) by Malhotra 2011: online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/57311152/Store-Design-andVisual-Merchandising [diagram] Figure 6. Ted Baker window display (2012) ‘own photograph’ taken on 14th November 2012.
Figure 7. Harvey Nichols window display (2012) ‘own photograph’ taken on 14th November 2012. Figure 8. Pop packaging (2012) ‘own photograph’ taken on 14th November 2012. Figure 9. Pop phone shop (2012) ‘own photograph’ taken on 14th November 2012. Figure 10. Donna Karan campaign (1992) by Arnell. In: KANNES, B. 1992. Campaign Style. New York magazine, volume 25, p.16. [photograph] Figure 11. Dior campaign (2011) by Nick Knight 2011: online at http://pinterest.com/erykdatura/christian-dior-as-photographed-by-nick-knight/ [photograph] Figure 12. Matthew Williamson Coca Cola bottles (2003) by Anon: online at http://www.designlovrs.com.br/2010/02/60-embalagens-de-coca-cola/ [photograph] Figure 13. Triumph motorcycles (2004) by Anon: online at http://www.biker247.com/news/S-117-4.asp [photograph]
List of References FLAVEN, G. 2008. Mood theory. Available at: http://style-vision.com/en/mood-theory/ [Accessed 3/01/13] HESS, J., and PASZOTREK, S. 2010. Graphic Design for fashion. London: Lawrence King publishing. HOYER, W. 2010. Consumer behaviour. Nashville: Southern-Western publishing. MALHOTRA, N. 2011. Store design and Visual Merchandising. New York: Business Expert Press. TUNGATE, M. 2012. Fashion Brands: Branding style from Armani to Zara. London: Kogan Page Publishers. TOTH, M., and Dâ€™AMATO, J. 2003. Fashion Icon: the power and influence of graphic design. Massachusetts: Rockport publishers.
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